Benjamin Franklin is credited with first proposing the idea of Daylight Saving Time in 1784. He hoped to save on candles.
The United States didn't get around to even agreeing on what Standard Time was until 1883, when the railroads clamored for some uniformity. Daylight Saving Time as we now know it was signed into law in with the Uniform Time Act of 1966. Before that act, someone traveling a 35-mile stretch of Highway 2 in West Virginia and Ohio would have had to change a watch setting SEVEN times to remain current.
In September 1999, Palestinians living on West Bank were on Daylight Saving Time while the Israeli government had already switched back to Standard Time. When terrorists smuggled in time bombs, they exploded one hour early, killing three plotters instead of two busloads of people.
Why Two in the Morning?
In the U.S., 2 a.m. was originally chosen for clock changing time because most people were asleep at that hour, whether they lived on either coast, or somewhere in between. It was also the time the fewest trains were running. Today it gives computer help desks enough time to reset sensitive systems, but it's still early enough for the entire continental U.S. to switch by daybreak. By not occurring at midnight, it prevents the scenario of today changing ever so briefly back to yesterday.
Partiers who stay out after 2 a.m. on the day Daylight Saving Time begins have complained that last call comes an hour too soon. One year, students and other late night bar patrons near Ohio University rioted at 2 a.m., chanting "Freedom" and throwing bottles at police.
Trick or Treat
The extra hour of light is likely to make Halloween safer starting in 2007. Children's pedestrian deaths are four times higher on Oct. 31 than on any other night of the year.
When the clocks fall back at 2 a.m. this Sunday, Amtrak trains running on time will have to wait in the station for one hour before resuming their journey. Springtime overnight travelers find their trains suddenly one hour late, but their engineers just keep going and try to make up the time.
Exceptions to the Rule
On April 2, 2006, the entire state of Indiana joined 48 other states in observing Daylight Saving Time. Previously many counties remained on standard time. Daylight Saving Time is still not observed in Hawaii and most of Arizona. The exception in Arizona is the Navajo Nation, which also extends into Utah and New Mexico.
— Carol Anne Clark Kelly
On Sunday at 2 a.m., Daylight Saving Time ends. We move the clock back one hour to return to Standard Time, giving us a 60-minute bonus, so we really shouldn't complain. But even a one-hour shift can be discombobulating for many people, from international air travelers to cranky toddlers.
Spring Forward, Fall Back may be the only notion some of us can keep straight when it comes to the twice-annual ritual of changing the clocks. And now Congress has tinkered with WHEN to make the change.
Thanks to passage of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, Daylight Saving Time will begin one month earlier in 2007 and will continue for an extra week. It's part of a phased move designed to conserve electricity and save an estimated 300,000 barrels of oil a year.
Many proponents wanted to extend Daylight Saving Time well into November, starting next year. A compromise was forged after Congress heard testimony from farmers concerned about their livestock, saying it would disrupt the cows' milking routines. Can cows tell time? Airlines executives worry about getting out of sync with the rest of the world.
* This year, Daylight Saving Time began on April 2 and ends at 2 a.m. Oct. 29
* In 2007, Daylight Saving Time begins on March 11 and ends Nov. 4
* In 2008, Daylight Savings Time begins on March 9 and ends on Nov. 2
* In 2009, Daylight Savings Time begins on March 8 and ends on Nov. 1
Dr. Timothy Monk, a professor of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh med school, has done studies for NASA on time changes and jet lag. He finds the physical impact of the switch back to Standard Time can linger for at least a week.
"In the autumn change, which we are experiencing now, it is like the whole popluation has moved one time zone to the west and actually that's quite congenial," Monk said.
Falling back means we get an extra hour in bed, have fewer traffic accidents, and improve our mood. But our circadian rhythms are thrown off. Monk has two suggestions:
* Listen to your body. Go to sleep an hour earlier on Sunday night. Chances are you may even wake before your alarms sounds Monday morning.
* On Monday, prepare yourself a high-protein breakfast. Thanks to another body clock trick, those extra calories you consume early in the day won't stay with you, Monk says.
hide captionA Kuwait Oil Company drilling rig on the northern border with Iraq. Daylight-saving time is still about saving energy.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
A Kuwait Oil Company drilling rig on the northern border with Iraq. Daylight-saving time is still about saving energy.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
1784: Ben Franklin writes a paper extolling the virtues of extending daylight in order to save candles.
1883: The U.S. and Canada listen to the cries of their railroad executives and adopt Standard Time.
1918: The U.S. establishes a daylight-saving time to run for seven months to conserve electricity during World War I. Once the war was over, the national law is dropped and daylight-saving time became a local option.
1942: During World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt orders a year-round daylight-saving time, called "War Time," which runs for three years.
1944: For the next two decades, there is no national law. States and jurisdictions can choose whether to observe daylight-saving time and when to begin and end it.
1966: Congress passes the Uniform Time Act of 1966, establishing a beginning and end date for daylight-saving time, but leaves it up to local jurisdictions to decide whether to use it.
1973: Congress enacts the Emergency Daylight Saving Time Energy Conservation Act in response to the Arab oil embargo. Daylight-saving time is extended to eight months rather than the normal six. The Department of Transportation says the equivalent of 100,000 barrels of oil each day was saved.
1986: Daylight saving is moved from the last Sunday of April to the first Sunday of April. The end date is left the same.
1987: Chile delays its time change by one day to accommodate a papal visit.
2005: Congress passes the Energy Act of 2005 which starts daylight-saving time one month earlier in the spring and extends it one week later in the fall, beginning in 2007.